June 20, 2022

Finest Hour 194, Fourth Quarter 2021

Page 04

By David Freeman, October 2021

Much has been written about Winston Churchill and his favorite hobby. He wrote about it himself, starting when he was still fairly new to oil painting. Those essays evolved into the book Painting as a Pastime, the story of which Ronald I. Cohen explains for us. Rather than present another examination of Churchill as an artist, however, this issue explores the artistic world in which Churchill moved.

Sir David Cannadine surveys not only the origins and development of Churchill’s hobby but the professional artists with whom he worked. He also describes how not only the popularity of the statesman but the very high quality of his work resulted in the ultimate accolade: an exhibition at the Royal Academy. Sir David’s survey is complemented by one of the speeches Churchill delivered to the academy’s annual dinner

Organizing an exhibition of Churchill’s “daubs,” as he liked to call his paintings, originated not in London but in Kansas City, where the 2022 International Churchill Conference will take place. Timothy Riley explains the origins of the first exhibit of Churchill’s paintings and how exhibits have continued to the present day.

Churchill was the subject of many portraits made during his lifetime. One of the grandest depicts him at the center of a group of Statesmen of World War I and hangs in London’s National Portrait Gallery. Alastair Stewart tells the story of this remarkable painting that is featured on our cover.

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Given a new lease on life by the popularity of the television series The Crown, the 1955 portrait of Churchill by Graham Sutherland has stirred controversy since its unveiling. Allison Leigh considers the work from the perspective of an art historian.

In just the past year, Churchill paintings have been selling for millions of pounds. The pattern began in Churchill’s own lifetime when a colorful Brazilian tycoon first paid a record price for one of his hero’s paintings at auction. We see in this tale how the past of Churchill’s artistic world connects with the present.

Finally, on a different topic, we are pleased to present the text of the inaugural Stephen and Jane Poss Distinguished Churchill Lecture, delivered at this year’s conference by Andrew Roberts.

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